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Warren Gatland Thinks He Made Wrong Call With Johnny Sexton Lions Snub

Warren Gatland Thinks He Made Wrong Call With Johnny Sexton Lions Snub
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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For Irish fans, the absence of Johnny Sexton from the 2021 Lions tour of South Africa drew something of a cloud over the whole affair.

An eclectic squad selection from coach Warren Gatland saw some Irish "bolters" included, such as Jack Conan and Bundee Aki, but the shock exclusion of Sexton was no doubt the biggest surprise.

Gatland chose to bring Dan Biggar, Owen Farrell, and Finn Russell ahead of Sexton and, even when Russell was forced out with injury, young Englishman Marcus Smith was preferred to Sexton to replace the Scot.

Ahead of Gatland's return to the Wales head coach position in this year's Six Nations, he spoke to the media this week - and revealed that Sexton's recent top-class form for Ireland and Leinster has him doubting whether he made the right call.

Warren Gatland: Johnny Sexton has "proven me wrong"

Speaking to the media this week, Warren Gatland spoke on his decision to leave Johnny Sexton behind for the 2021 Lions tour of South Africa.


Gatland acknowledged the magnitude of his decision, before admitting that Sexton's recent form had more than likely proven that Gatland made the wrong call in dropping him from the squad:

It was a big decision for him to be left out of the last Lions tour. That was a tough call.

He has probably proved me wrong in terms of the way he has been playing and the way he has been leading as a player for Ireland. He should be proud of that in terms of what he has achieved in the game because it is pretty special.

He will go down as one of the great players of Irish rugby when he does decide to hang up his boots. I think he has been playing some great rugby in the last year or so.

Gatland had brought a 27-year-old Sexton on the 2013 Lions tour of Australia, and again on the 2017 tour of New Zealand. The Lions were victorious in the 2013 test series, and played out a drawn series in 2017, with Sexton starting five of the six test matches across the two tours.


Warren Gatland Johnny Sexton 2013 Lions

6 July 2013; Jonathan Sexton, British & Irish Lions, is congratulated by head coach Warren Gatland following their victory. British & Irish Lions Tour 2013, 3rd Test, Australia v British & Irish Lions. ANZ Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney, Australia. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

To drop Sexton entirely for the 2021 tour was a bold call from Gatland, and the South African venture would ultimately end in a 2-1 series defeat for the Lions.


Since that Lions tour, Sexton has cemented his position as one of the world's leading out-halves, even at the age of 37. He remains central to Leinster and Ireland's respective game plans, and was instrumental in a first ever test series victory for Ireland in New Zealand last summer.

Sexton will not have to wait long to come face-to-face with Gatland once more. Ireland travel to Cardiff for the very first game of the Six Nations, with kick-off v Wales at 2:15pm on Saturday February 4th.

SEE ALSO: Paul O'Connell Recalls Roy Keane's Cheeky Comment To Ronan O'Gara During New Zealand Dinner

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